Because there is much to learn at the same time that your team is learning about its Challenge, the first season you manage a Destination Imagination team can feel daunting. Even if you have managed a team for several seasons, there is always room to refine the way you manage a team. Make no mistake—Destination Imagination is a learning process for everyone, not just the students, from start to finish. A little bit of training and organization benefits everyone. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path.
Take advantage of facilitator training opportunities
Are you aware that there are multiple ways for you to acquire facilitator training, and that you can take advantage of them before you send in your Iowa membership registration. Training, which provides the same information to everyone, helps level the playing field for all teams. A facilitator benefits personally from training by becoming knowledgeable about common DI terminology, becoming familiar with DI program philosophy, learning new ways to manage a team more efficiently, and discovering how to use CPS (creative problem solving) strategies to lead your team in effective discussions that will minimize team conflicts and keep your team moving forward.
1. Basic Training Podcast for Team Managers & Coordinators. Learn the basics of managing a team by visiting our podcast page. The basics of managing a team are recorded in sections so that you can fit them into your schedule at your convenience. Note that there is a segment for returning facilitators called “What’s New This Season” under Getting Started.
2. DI University. An overview of DI terminology, philosophy and the components of the program is available at DI University, where you will find slide show presentations that allows you to quiz yourself afterward. Different modules are available; do them all whenever you wish: Being a DI Team Manager, Rules of the Road, Being a DI Appraiser, and Challenge Master. All of these training modules provide you with information from different points of view. Consider having your team go through Rules of the Road, too.
3. Advanced Team Manager & Coordinator Training Workshop. This training is not just for experienced facilitators, but also for new ones. You will benefit more from it, however, if you listen to the Basic Training Podcast before you come. The training is being held Saturday, December 1st, at the Iowa Energy Center in Ames from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year’s topics include:
- Helping Your Team Understand How to Make Materials Work
- Drawing the Line Between Helping Your Team and Interfering
- Developing Skill Sets for Your Team Challenge
- Q & A with the Challenge Masters
To make sure we have materials available for you, please REGISTER by November 26th for this workshop. There is no extra fee for this training, since it is included in your Iowa membership registration. It is okay for you to come, even if you have not yet paid your Iowa membership registration fee.
Make sure everyone is on the same page
Start off by gathering the “tools” you will need to manage your team. Both you and your team members should have a 3-ring notebook that contains sections for contact information, your team meeting calendar, Rules of the Road, the Team Challenge and Published Clarifications, and team discussions. Draw up an agenda for every meeting, and make sure you distribute hole-punched copies to team members that they can add to their binders. Have your team generate a to-do list and update it regularly to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and who is responsible for what. Team members can insert research notes, charts and diagrams into the “team discussions” section of their binders. A 3-ring notebook, essentially, helps everyone to be on the same page.
Create a framework for team meetings
Prepare for team meetings ahead of time. Yes, you will have to adjust your agenda to meet your team’s needs, but there are certain parts of your meeting that can be in place long before you actually meet. A suggested framework is as follows:
1. Do an ice breaker, warm-up, or team building activity. Refer to our earlier post, Focus on teamwork: part 1, for ideas about where to locate these activities. You will find additional ideas at the New Hampshire DI Web site:
- Ice Breakers and Team Building Activities (Part 1)
- Ice Breakers and Team Building Activities (Part 2)
2. Develop the Challenge.
At the beginning of the season, challenge development means reading and re-reading the Challenge. Encourage team members to divide the Challenge into sections, and explain it to each other. This helps students to take ownership of their eventual solution. Check the team’s understanding by asking questions; turn this into a game with an old Chutes & Ladders or Parchisi-style game board; write questions on an index card.
Use the areas of academic focus found at the top of page 1 of every Team Challenge to help the team develop a KWL chart that you can use to schedule educational opportunities such as speakers, demonstrations, workshops and field trips. K represents what the team already KNOWS, W represents WHAT the team needs or wants to learn, and L stands for what the team has LEARNED by the end of the season and serves as a great assessment tool after the final tournament, when it is time for the team to celebrate its success. Learning is a big part of that success! Remember to avoid Interference when you arrange for educational opportunities.
As the season evolves, your team will need to schedule time to get the actual work of the Challenge completed. This means researching, writing a script, creating props, building a theatrical set, making or locating costumes and developing devices. Make sure you have chart paper handy. Have your team fill in columns of an SML chart to keep track of individuals’ responsibilities and timetables. S stands for a SHORT period of time (24 hours), M represents a MEDIUM length of time (one week), and L stands for a LONG period of time (one month). Make sure you have a column that shows who is responsible for what task, and remind students to check and update the SML chart at each meeting. Having the team take responsibility for this chart keeps students accountable to each other.
3. Practice Instant Challenge. Make sure you practice different types of Instant Challenges (performance-based, task-based and combination) at every team meeting. It is even more important to debrief the team afterward. You’ll find sample debriefing questions in the Instant Challenge Practice Set found in the Resource Area, as well in Iowa’s theme-based Instant Challenge collection, A Roll of Plenty. Take advantage of the many resources in our Instant Challenge Library, which includes links to other online Instant Challenges.
4.Take time out for a snack. Some Team Managers meet with students after a long school day and have discovered that before their team can focus on DI business, they need a snack. Other Team Managers use a snack in the middle of the meeting as an organizational break; while the team is enjoying a treat, the adult(s) are preparing for the next activity. And sometimes a snack simply breaks up tension. Do what works for you!
5. Plan for your next meeting. Take 5 minutes at the end of a team meeting to review what was accomplished today and what needs to be accomplished at the next meeting. Do team members need to perform independent research? Finish a project or two at home? Bring some specific power tools or working materials to the next meeting? Use pre-planning as a way to close your current meeting, and launch your next one.